After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which "unexpectedly" fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.
And of course he didn't. What's remarkable is that Crutsinger's Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing "some analysts" who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter's 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger's premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.
On the May 29 edition of the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor, anchor Bill O’Reilly and colleague Kelly Megyn of FNC’s Kelly File, argued about how conservatives and Republicans should take on the Left’s spin about “income inequality” in American society today.
While Kelly argued that income inequality has objectively gotten worse and is a valid issue that needs to be confronted by policymakers – albeit from a conservative tack by conservatives – O’Reilly claimed that the idea that income inequality is a new and pressing problem is a “myth” as it naturally “exists in every free marketplace” and has merely been “exacerbated” by the success of technology improving everyone’s standard of living. You can read the relevant transcript and watch the exchange by pressing play on the embed below the page break. Click here for MP3 audio.
In an apparent attempt to reach those who usually don't pay much attention to the economy, USA Today sent out a tweet Thursday afternoon in the wake of the government's report earlier in the day that the U.S. economy contracted by an annualized 1.0 percent — on its weather feed.
The tweet (HT Zero Hedge), plus evidence that the economy has somehow managed to "weather" previous cold and stormy winters, follow the jump:
America suffered an economic setback in the first quarter of the year as the GDP for Obama’s economy was revised downward Thursday morning to a negative one percent, yet neither ABC’s World News nor the NBC Nightly News considered it newsworthy.
Meanwhile, the CBS Evening News spun the bad news into a positive. Reporter Anthony Mason insisted “it sets the economy up for rebound this quarter and there are some encouraging signs in the numbers.”
Last month, CNN reported that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis measured a decrease in the rate of growth of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) to the tune of 0.1 percent. But relax, they insisted, it was merely due to the “winter weather effect.”
Fast forward to today and the Bureau’s downward revision of GDP growth. The feds now tell us the economy contracted one percent in the first quarter. Yes, this is “the first downturn since 2011," CNNMoney noted but, hey, “it’s not a big deal,” according to the network’s dismissive headline.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- In the 1970s, while working as a low-paid cub reporter in Houston, Texas, I always looked forward to the annual Christmas catalogs from Neiman-Marcus and Sakowitz, a local luxury department store. Both contained outrageously expensive things that only the super-rich could afford -- his and hers Thunderbirds stick in my memory. My wife and I couldn't wait to thumb through them and we frequently laughed at how much some of the items cost, wondering if even rich Texans would spend so extravagantly.
Another tribute to conspicuous wealth comes in the annual "Rich List," a guide to the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain, published in a special edition of The Sunday Times Magazine. A fat feline sits proudly on the cover with the symbol of a British pound (in gold) around its neck.
French economist Thomas Piketty’s far-left views on wealth and income inequality are beloved ... at least by the liberal media. So it was no surprise that all three broadcast networks skipped criticism of “errors” in his work over the weekend. Some print media outlets also ignored that story.
When his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” rose to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list the media went crazy over the “rock star” economist and his 700-plus page “beach read.” But on May 23, The Financial Times reported that its investigation found his data was “flawed.”
The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.
The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):
French economist Thomas Piketty has become a darling of the left for allegedly "proving" that, as paraphrased by Chris Giles at the Financial Times, "wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war." The Media Research Center's Julia Seymour has described Piketty as a "'rock star' of the far-left," an accurate assessment given praises heaped upon his book and especially his public policy prescriptions by the likes of Alternet and Vox's especially gullible Matthew Yglesias. Seymour also notes that Piketty's work has received a great deal of favorable notice in the establishment press, and that he has met "with the Treasury Secretary" and "(President) Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers."
Of course these "oligarch groupies," as Jeffrey Lord describes them, love him. Piketty favors an 80 percent tax on incomes above $500,000 and a progressive global tax on real wealth (i.e., after subtracting debt). The problem is that FT's Giles, having done a deep dive into the economist's data and spreadsheets, has found serious problems in the professor's work which nullify his conclusions.
On Thursday evening, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on the PBS NewsHour to discuss his new memoir. Not only did the taxpayer-subsidized anchor Gwen Ifill gently press Geithner from the left on policy matters, she failed to ask him about one of his most startling admissions – that Obama administration officials wanted him to lie during appearances on the Sunday morning TV talk shows.
It's not for a lack of air time either. Ifill gave a two-minute introduction, followed by a 10-minute interview, yet she never got around to this revelation from Geithner’s book Stress Test:
In July 2013, the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally noticed the meteoric rise in the number of temporary help service and other non-payroll personnel working at U.S. employers — a trend which at the time was about 2-1/2 years old. Rugaber noted that "temps and to a much larger universe of freelancers, contract workers and consultants ... number nearly 17 million people who have only tenuous ties to the companies that pay them – about 12 percent of everyone with a job." He also cited two likely contributors to that growth. First, "Some employers have also sought to sidestep the new health care law’s rule that they provide medical coverage for permanent workers. Second, "companies want to avoid having too many employees during a downturn."
This morning, the AP's Tom Raum did another report on the situation, and proceeded to blow the numbers, ignore Obamacare, and downplay the influence of the mediocre economy.
Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I pointed to the track record of Dean Baquet, who has ascended to the hallowed perch of executive editor at the New York Times, and observed that "someone who has clearly been a troubling and disruptive presence is now in charge."
Two incidents spanning seven years support my contention. The first occurred in 2006 at the Los Angeles Times, where Baquet, then that paper's editor, petulantly refused to make budget cuts the paper's Tribune Company parent demanded, took his complaints public in the paper itself, metaphorically barricaded himself in his office, and dared the Trib to fire him (they did, two months later). The second occurred in April of last year, when Baquet, now at the New York Times, got into an argument with now deposed Executive Editor Jill Abramson, "burst out of Abramson’s office, slammed his hand against a wall ... stormed out of the newsroom ... (and was) gone for the rest of the day." Now we learn from David Carr at the Old Gray Lady itself that, in essence, Baquet did an "it's her or me" number on Abramson (HT Ann Althouse) to grease the skids for her firing.
What at times is worse than the Jurassic Press not covering something? The Jurassic Press covering something.
The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention. But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it. This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist).
Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, May 18 to promote his new memoir Stress Test, yet host Bob Schieffer barely touched on the most controversial aspect, that the Obama Administration had directed him to spin negative aspects of Obama’s policies.
Schieffer briefly asked his guest “Did the administration ever try to get you to put a more positive spin on things than you thought the situation deserved?" After Geithner said he “never had that experience” the CBS host quickly moved on to an unrelated topic without challenging his contradictory claim. [See video below.]
A search at 11:00 p.m. ET tonight at the Associated Press's national web site on "Serco," the company with a five-year, $1.25 billion contract to process paper Obamacare enrollment applications, returned no results. That's absolutely pathetic, given that St. Louis TV station KMOV, based on multiple accounts from several current and former employees and contractors, has reported that the company has well over 1,000 people doing almost nothing all day simply because there are very few paper applications to process. KMOV, which carried five consecutive reports this week (here, here, here, here, and here), even noted in its later segments that its work had drawn national attention.
What's worse than AP not covering the story nationally? How about the wire service treating it as a local and regional story, even though Serco and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are wasting roughly $20 million per month of U.S. taxpayers' money, and even though calls for investigation have come from U.S. senators in at least two states? It would have been just as absurd if AP had treated bankrupt Solyndra, which failed to repay an Energy Department loan of over $500 million several years ago, as a California-only story because that's where its plant was. Excerpts from the AP's story, including a "This story is boring, so don't read it" headline, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)
That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.
According to a Government Accountability Office report released in March but inexplicably only getting attention just now, the pain resulting from last year's sequestration "cuts," which were mostly reductions in the growth of spending in comparison to the previous year, bore no resemblance to the Armageddon-like warnings which preceded their imposition. Only one federal employee was laid off. You read that right — one. Only seven agencies out of 22 furloughed any employees, and they were ultimately given $2 billion in back pay.
What the results exposed by the GAO demonstrate, in addition to the fact that the government had plenty of places to cut and funds to access to keep its operations going without meaningfully affecting the federal workforce, is either that almost nobody in the establishment press cared about what the GAO had to say, or that if they did, they didn't believe that they should tell the nation that the Obama administration's scare tactics had no basis. Excerpts from one of the establishment press reports I found via CBS News's Stephanie Condon predictably turned the whole thing into a "Republicans attack" exercise:
In early May, after the government announced that first-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at a barely perceptible annual rate of 0.1 percent — the equivalent of a business which grossed $100,000 in the previous quarter seeing its sales rise by $25 — reporters at the "essential global news network" were regaling readers with an air of assuredness that the rest of the year would be different. Specifically (both here and here), the wire service carried predictions that the economy would turn in annualized second-quarter growth of 3.5 percent, and that the entire year would end up at 3.0 percent. As seen after the jump, put a big "oops" on those figures (bolds are mine):
Charlie Rose invited on Timothy Geithner for the entire hour on his PBS show to plug his new memoir but never once asked him about the juiciest nugget in the book - that the White House told Geithner to lie to the media.
On Monday’s edition of PBS’s Charlie Rose show, the CBS This Morning co-host never got around to asking the former Treasury Secretary about his revelation that White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer pressured him to lie to the likes of Rose’s CBS colleague, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. (video after the jump)
AP's tallest tale is in ascribing the four annual deficits of over $1 trillion incurred from fiscal 2009 through 2012 entirely to the "deep recession" and the need to "stabilize the financial system," when the truth is that huge increases in government spending not related to those matters are primarily what shot the annual deficits upward — and are still keeping them at historical highs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Smartphone makers like Apple are partially to blame for violent muggings and the murder of at least one teenage girl young woman. While not explicitly stated on air, that was the logical implication of a segment of today's NewsNation program on MSNBC, guest-anchored by Craig Melvin and featuring Daily Beast special correspondent Michael Daly.
"If you're walking around with a smartphone in your pocket, then you're walking bait for thieves in this country who last year zoned in on the smartphones like never before," Melvin noted as he opened the segment, adding:
One has to ask this question because just a week after Lucia Mutikani of Reuters reported that the paltry 0.1 percent economic growth for the first quarter would probably be revised to show a contraction, Richard Cowan also of Reuters declared that a "rising" U.S. economy could help Democrats. To get an idea of the absurdity of these wildly contrasting Reuters reports, let us first read Cowan's happy look today at a non-existent economy that would help Democrats...if only it were true:
"Millions of Americans could face new state taxes on their Internet access this fall, as Congress struggles with how to extend an expiring moratorium on such levies," the Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon reported in the May 6 paper, noting that the federal moratorium in the Internet Tax Freedom Act expires on November 1, 2014 and has, thus far seen Congress taking "few concrete steps to re-enact it."
In a nutshell, some legislators are seeking to use the deadline as leverage to enact passage of the core provisions of a bill -- the Marketplace Fairness Act --which would permit states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes payable to the customer's state government even if the retailer does not have a physical presence in the customer's home state. Below the page break you can read an excerpt from McKinnon's story (emphases mine) and leave comments on this and/or anything else on your mind. This serves as today's Open Thread post.
If I didn't know any better, I might have thought, based on an Associated Press report tonight by business writer Bernard Condon prepared with the help of four others, that governments everywhere had reinstituted child labor for those as young as six years old.
That's the only way to support the claims Condon made about how the birth dearth in the developed world driven by the 2008 financial crisis is responsible for the current worldwide economic malaise. This desperate grasping at straws is apparently necessarily because the press will never blame the ineffectiveness of Keynesian fiscal policies and national banks' interventions in the developed world's economies, which are really the culprits. Excerpts from Condon's calamity follow the jump (bolds are mine):
So the New York Times has found an onerous, creativity-stifling regulation it abhors. Naturally, they want a carve-out so it still impacts everyone else but, well, journalists and the corporations which hire them.
Jack Nicas of the Wall Street Journal reported today that the New York Times Company is joining other journalistic enterprises like the Associated Press and Tribune Co. in "a joint brief in a high-profile legal case that is testing the FAA's legal authority to regulate drones":
In stark contrast to the celebratory "AMERICAN ECONOMY BOUNCES BACK FROM BRUTAL WINTER" headline Friday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ben White's "Morning Money" report at the Politico is notably concerned about whether Friday's "vexing jobs report" justifies the kind of optimism the AP conveyed with seeming finality in its headline.
To be fair, the underlying AP report by Chris Rugaber and Josh Boak pointed to several weaknesses in the jobs report. But to be appropriately critical, as I noted yesterday, they took it as a virtual given that the economy will turn in full-year growth of "nearly 3 percent." Achieving that result will require second-half annualized growth of nearly 4 percent — a level would likely cause the Federal Reserve to put on the brakes by raising interest rates to stave off inflation. In a separate post, I also criticized the AP pair for presenting economists's estimates of 3.5 percent annualized growth in the second quarter without telling readers that their prediction is premised on the first quarter's current 0.1 percent result getting revised downward into contraction.
This morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Friday afternoon's coverage of the government's jobs report at the Associated Press by economics writers Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak carried predictions of "nearly 3 percent" economic growth this year. Those predictions ignore how difficult achieving that will be after the first quarter's miserable 0.1 percent annualized result and "most economists'" estimates that the second quarter will come in at 3.5 percent. Those two results require average annualized growth of 3.9 percent during the third and fourth quarters — something the economy hasn't seen in ten years. Additionally, it appears that if the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen sees that kind of growth, it will put on the brakes by raising interest rates in the name of heading off inflation.
Since they were entertaining predictions about future developments, it's more than a little odd that the AP pair chose to ignore many analysts' predictions that the first quarter's GDP result will move into contraction when it gets revised in future months — especially since those downward revisions, supposedly reflecting deferred growth, partially justify their 3.5 percent second-quarter prediction. It sure looks like Rugaber and Boak were selective in deciding what they would report.
In a Friday afternoon dispatch issued in the wake of the government's jobs report earlier that day, Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak at the Associated Press wrote that "most economists ... forecast a strong rebound in economic growth - to a 3.5 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. And growth should reach nearly 3 percent for the full year, up from 1.9 percent in 2013, they expect."
There are two problems with that prediction. The first lies in how strong the third and fourth quarters will have to be for the economy to get "nearly 3 percent" for the full year, given the tiny first-quarter annualized growth of 0.1 percent reported on Wednesday. The second and perhaps more crucial issue is that the full-year estimate significantly exceeds the "altered assessment" at the Fed concerning how fast it thinks the economy can grow without running the risk of igniting inflation.
In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were "tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry." According to the administration, the program had "helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia." Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.
So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world's financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that's fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder's U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct "a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law," which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to "Operation Choke Point."
On the Wednesday, April 30, Hardball with Chris Matthews, guest and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman -- formerly of Newsweek -- mocked Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's intent to visit impoverished areas as a plan to "introduce himself to the bro," and went on to complain that Ryan's budget "whacks away at" programs to help the poor.